Suicide is the act of putting end to one’s own life. Suicide is no crime under the Indian Penal Code. When one attempts to commit suicide and fails it, that is punishable under the Indian Penal Code. It means when a person fails to commit suicide because of any reason only then Section 309 of Indian Penal Code will apply.
This section interprets that State has a duty to save person lives as they are valuable to them. The state is under the obligation to protect them and prevent them from dying.
Attempt to commit suicide can be because of many reasons. An attempt under section 309 of Indian Penal Code implies a voluntary action towards suicide. An attempt should be intentional and voluntary. The main ingredient of Section 309 of IPC is that it should be a voluntary attempt of self-destruction. Thus, if a person falls in a well by mistake, or takes an overdose of medicine he or she can not be guilty under Section 309 of IPC.
How Attempt to commit suicide is decriminalized
New mental health bill decriminalizes suicide. In 2013, Healthcare bill was introduced which seeks to decriminalize suicide.
Upon considering the recommendation of the Law Commission Government of India passed the new healthcare bill that was introduced in 2013 seeks to decriminalize suicide and make access to affordable mental health institution a right for all. This was introduced in Rajya Sabha which states that the acts of suicide will not be criminalized and those attempting suicide would be treated as mentally ill. This Bill seeks to provide better health care facilities for the people who suffer from depression or mental disorder and also who tries to commit suicide. Section 124 of the Medical Health Care Bill states “Notwithstanding anything contained in Section 309 of the IPC, any person who attempts suicide shall be presumed, unless proved otherwise, to be suffering from mental illness at the time of the bid and shall not be liable to punishment under the said section”. The presumption is raised by the court now that if a person has attempted to take his own life then he must be under some mental stress or depression unless the contrary is proved.
Before this bill, attempt to commit suicide was punishable under Section 309 of IPC but after the health care bill only counseling and help is the remedial procedure and the punishment has been done away with because a person already under stress would be fearful of the punishment. He will have to undergo the remedy if in case he gets saved in his attempt to commit suicide.
This bill decriminalizing suicide and prohibiting electroconvulsive therapy: This section effectively decriminalizes suicide attempts i.e Section 309 of IPC by making it non-punishable. Electro Convulsion Therapy will be allowed only with the use of anesthesia and is not allowed for minors.
However, in 210th Law Commission Report on Humanization and Decriminalization of Attempt to Suicide, stated that attempt to suicide is because of a mental disease that deserves treatment and cares rather than punishment for that offense.
In Aruna Ramchandra Shanbaug v. Union of India & Ors, Supreme Court stated that although 309 of IPC has been held constitutionally valid in Gian Kaur’s case. After the Aruna Shanbaug’s case, Parliament introduced this bill. But in the year 2016 section 309 was deleted by the parliament. A person attempts suicide in a depression need help rather than punishment.
Present Situation Of Section 309 of IPC
Presently, the punishment is waived off and Section 309 of IPC has been decriminalized. This does not mean to promote suicide, it is to help the people who are suffering from depression or mental disorder. It’s a decade-long argument about the right to die should be constitutional or not. Arguments that favor of decriminalization of section 309 was that it is a monstrous act to inflict further suffering of a man who is already in depression that he decides to end his life. It is unjust to inflict punishment on such a person. This act of decriminalization of the offense is not an invitation or encouragement to attempt to commit suicide. It is to treat them with care and not punish them further.
Does Hunger strikes comes under suicide
Hunger strikes are mainly to force the authorities to fulfill his or her demands. But it is very difficult to make out from the strike if it is to kill himself or just to force the authorities to fulfill the demands. If the intention of the person on hunger strike is to kill himself then he is likely to be guilty under Section 309 of IPC. But If it is just to force the authority and have no intention to kill himself, then he can not be prosecuted for committing suicide.
The case of Irom Sharmila Chanu. In the state of Manipur in northeast India, a young poet named Irom Sharmila Chanu began to fast in November 2000. She is on hunger strike for more than 14 years but still, she doesn’t want to eat anything. This can be a case of suicide. Even after her released, she continued her fast which forced the court to arrest her again. The court order also came at the time when the government was seeking for decriminalizing suicide attempt. The only solution would be to give her to her relatives. She needed help rather than punishment. Her strike was for some cause and not to kill herself. The government should give her medical attention rather than jail.
From the above discussion, the Indian Penal Code should be amended timely to make it clear so that it can work properly in modern criminal code. amendments and repeals are necessary to bring the provisions of the Indian Penal Code in tune with the current scenario. Thus, the aim of the legislature should be to evolve the provision with the time. Section 309 was inserted in IPC long back but now the situation of suicide is turned and legislature have rightly decriminalized it. Thus in no case, does punishment serve the purpose, it only makes it worst for the person who is suffering already. Hence, punishment for an attempt to commit suicide is removed by the legislature.
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